Ten things to know about Virginia’s smoking ban in restaurants
The new law eliminating smoking at restaurants took effect Dec. 1, 2009. It affects all restaurants that are open to the public.
More than three-quarters of fast-food and full-service restaurants in Virginia are already smoke-free.
The law protects restaurant employees and patrons from the effects of secondhand smoke, which is responsible for as many as 1,040 adult deaths each year in Virginia.
There are some narrowly defined exceptions to the law which include private clubs; restaurants with designated rooms that are both structurally separate from non-smoking dining rooms and separately vented; mobile outdoor food carts; and outdoor areas of restaurants that are not enclosed.
If a restaurant has a smoking room, it must have at least one public entrance into the non-smoking area.
The law affects bars and lounges and restaurants with fewer than 50 seats. It also affects bowling alleys, skating rinks, convenience stores, gas stations and similar facilities that prepare and serve food.
The Virginia Department of Health will assist the law’s enforcement by ensuring during restaurant safety inspections that there are “No Smoking” signs posted and that smoking paraphernalia such as ashtrays have been removed.
The civil penalty for breaking the smoking law is up to a $25 fine.
Smokers who want to go smoke-free can get help through the Quit Now Virginia hotline by calling toll-free (800) QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to be connected to information and assistance in getting help locally. Learn more about Quit Now Virginia.